Reincarnation Magazine

Reincarnation Magazine
Continuation, Reproduction and Replica Automobiles
Rein Car Nation Cover Spring 2020
						Chinook Racer 10

Porsche-Powered Chinook Racer

By Dean Larson

Photos: Seller, BringaTrailer.com

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Like, if I asked you why you don’t go out and buy a rare sports car, anticipating future gains in value, you’d probably tell me that you can’t quite afford it right now. And back in the late 1960s, guys would have likely said the same thing. Even if you knew way back when that air-cooled Porsches would climb exponentially in value, life doesn’t always afford the opportunity to “buy ’em up and stash ’em in a barn.” But the thing about guys that can’t quite afford one outright, is that they’re resourceful — case in point, this Porsche-powered Chinook racer.

Unable to interview the car’s original builder from the late ’60s, we can only surmise what he had in mind when he constructed this home-brewed sports car. But given the Porsche and Volkswagen mechanicals, and the period-license plate reading “RSK-550,” we’ve got an inkling.

Even up into the late 1950s, Porsche’s 550 spyder was cleaning house in 1.1 and 1.5-liter classes, and would even show larger cars a look. The untimely death of cultural icon James Dean in his “Little Bastard” 550 spyder was also still a fresh memory, so naturally the 90 or so 550 spyders built were more than just old race cars. So maybe the prospect of a cheap 550 was dim, but sourcing its heart, the complex Type 547 four-cam Fuhrmann engine, might have been an easier feat, seeing as they were also used in road-going 356 Carreras.

Such is our best guess on the impetus for this wild home-built sports car, but what exactly are we looking at here? What really gives the car its character is the unique fiberglass bodywork, said to be constructed by the Fejer brothers of the Chinook Racing company. Hungarian brothers Rudy and George Fejer allegedly constructed race cars in Toronto, Canada from 1966 to 1970, with sports cars, Can-Am cars, Indy and Formula Vee cars to their credit.

For a chassis, the builder went with his best alternative, a 1959 Volkswagen Beetle pan, which leads to a rear-mounted engine instead of the 550’s rear-mid setup. Unfortunately the Type 547 Fuhrmann engine was removed and replaced some four years after the car was completed in the 1960s. Maybe it was too finicky for road use, or became too valuable for the car at some point. Either way, a different Porsche powerplant, a 1.6-liter from an early 1960s 356B, was installed. Even though the engine looks dusty and barn-fresh, the seller reports that it runs well and has had a recent tune-up. A Type 519 four-speed transaxle from a 1955 356 sends power to the wheels.

While the car looks to be more-or-less in barn-find condition, there are many positives to consider beyond the awesome backstory. For trick parts, there are finned Porsche 356 drum brakes, period-correct American Racing wide-five wheels, twin fuel tanks with flip-open fillers, Porsche-sourced Hella reverse lights and Porsche badges.

Of course the car will need some work to be roadworthy again, as the floorboards are rusted through, the paintwork is hanging on by a thread and everything has barn-find amounts of corrosion present. But I wouldn’t be deterred on this one, as the work to get it up and running is finished and it’s likely the only one of its kind. On top of that, I’m sure it’s a riot to drive.

The big question is what will it bring, and that unfortunately will be largely based on what its parts are worth. But I really hope this one stays together, as it would be a shame to see it parted out. The current high bid sits at $4,900 with two days remaining in the sale.

Check it out here on BringaTrailer.com.

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